It is my earliest start and my weakest. Up early and packing after a seemingly good sleep I stop downstairs to use the wi-fi. I bump into Chris and Lisa again and I’m not far behind them out the door but by the time I get to the gate they are out of sight.
The pull out if Estella is a long uphill one on concrete back lanes but eventually there is a steep descent and I am in farmland. It is very chilly and I’m sweating so it’s a bit uncomfortable.
One hour in and there is a picnic area with concrete tables and benches so I stop for breakfast number one which consists of a banana, some salty tinned nuts and water. I’m sitting in the weak sun trying to absorb some rays. I can hear Spanish tractors out tilling Spanish soil in company with the birdsong.
Back on the track and Oscar and Ciello go by for the second time. There are a few more walkers out as I go by the Hotel Irache. Somehow I’ve made the 5 k mark in good time but I feel weak and my knee is troubling me.
I cross a road and on the other side is a concrete block so I stop for breakfast number 2, more nuts and water. Once I start again I emerge from the overgrowth and there is a ploughed field in front of me but the path turns left. I follow a pilgrim on a shortcut across the field and halfway across I can hear footsteps behind me so I step aside to let them pass and lo and behold it is Jo an Bee my Korean friends. And looking over their shoulder is the most breathtaking view to the north over vast valleys to a range of white cliffs. Photo op!
We continue on in company for a while but on a steep descent the girls pull ahead and I can see them in the distance climbing into the village of Azqueta.
When I get there I bump into Chris and Lisa again and then head into the bar for a breakfast number 3 of tortilla, fresh orange juice and the remaining nuts.
Outside again with the girls I can see the castle atop Montjardin and zoom in to show them.
We are off again and after a fairly gentle climb up the side of the mountain I make it into Villamayor de Montjardin. It’s 11.30 and I sit on the bus stop bench watching people go by. After 20 minutes I walk to the back of the church and sit on the stone wall waiting for the midday bells. They are loud this close.
Time to call Ali for a long chat.
I decide I’ve had enough walking today and will stop here today.
I wander up the hill to an Alburgue run by Dutch Christians which I discover later.
There is a group waiting and I bump into Missourian Troy who is blessed with a strong voice and opinions to go with it. He has had a tough journey having just lost his restaurant lease and is on a regime of pills.
We are booked in one by one and it’s 18 Euro for a bed and a meal.
When I get to my bed I lie down for a bit but then do some laundry and sit on the parapet chatting. I go for siesta.
About 4pm, I shower and change and do the rest of my laundry then sit downstairs charging the phone and writing. While I’m there, the host comes in and start re-arranging things. A Philipino nurse from Calgary has asked to sleep downstairs because she can’t make the stairs so there goes my sitting room.
Texan Connie and sister have also booked here but I don’t see their Canadian friend.
Dinner is at 6 pm and I’m next to Troy and John and wife from Calgary. It’s a very noisy affair beginning with prayer, a salad and then chicken teriyaki and rice. I gratefully accept a second serve.
Desert is a pudding cup. A very nice meal for 2 Euro.
The hosts then offer us a little book of Johns’ Gospel in our own language as a gift to take with us on our journey.
Afterwards I stroll through town and find the path to the castle which I ascend partly, coming upon a flat area with a big log for appreciating the view so it’s selfie time.
The hosts offer a reflection time in the stable at 8 pm so I go and meditate and afterwards there is mint tea and I have a nice chat with the host’ daughter. This is their third season and it is very quiet and cold in winter. She offers me a blessing for me and my family and I depart to bed where the lights are out. Tonight is one of snorer’s hell and they are already in full swing. I don’t sleep well. I hope tomorrow will see me energised.